Histories of Technology’s Persistence: Repair, Reuse, and Disposal

Histories of Technology’s Persistence: Repair, Reuse, and Disposal

Stefan Krebs, Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg; Heike Weber, Institute for History, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Maison des Sciences Humaines, dh-lab
Vom - Bis
07.12.2018 - 08.12.2018
Stefan Krebs

Repair, reuse and removal are closely interlinked phenomena related to the lives and persistence of technologies, and they go beyond the question of innovation. When technical artefacts become old and outworn, decisions have to be taken as to whether it is necessary, worthwhile or possible to maintain and repair them, to reuse or dismantle them for different purposes, or to get rid of them. And these decisions depend among other factors on the availability of second-hand markets, repair infrastructures and dismantling or disposal facilities. The contributions to this workshop stress the long lives of old technologies whose form and duration has been shaped by repair, reuse and disposal practices. The workshop aims at showing that maintenance and repair have not become obsolete in modern industries and consumer societies.

Organized by Stefan Krebs (University of Luxembourg) and Heike Weber (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology).

The workshop will be based on pre-circulated papers. Guests are welcome but registration is required. Please contact Stefan Krebs (stefan.krebs@uni.lu)


Friday, 7 December (MSH, dh-lab)

09.00-10.30 Welcome by the organisers

Reflections on the Historiography of Repair

10.30-11.15 Jérôme Baudry, From the Ethnography to the History of Repair: Notes from the Field

11.15-11.45 Coffee break

Maintaining Infrastructures & Infrastructures of Repair

11.45-12.30 Ying Jia Tan, Cycles of Destruction and Creation: Maintaining and Dismantling China’s Wartime Power Grid, 1937-1945

12.30-13.15 Angelica Agredo Montealegre, The Unintended Role of Maintenance: Keeping Colombian Roads Passable, 1950s-1960s

13.15-14.30 Lunch

14.30-15.15 Philip Scranton, Fixing Holes in the Plan: Maintenance and Repair in Poland, 1945-1970

15.15-16.00 Thomas Lean, Memories In The Grid: Reuse And Adaptation In Britain's National Electricity Grid

16.00-16.30 Coffee break

16.30-17.15 Jan Hadlaw, Telephone Repair & Maintenance – Business as Usual at Bell Telephone

17.15-18.00 Stefan Krebs, Self-Repair Practices of German Automobilists: Community, Identity and the Appropriation of Technology

18.30 Dinner

Saturday, 8 December (MSH, dh-lab)

Maintenance and Repair as Technology Transfer

09.00-09.45 Egor Lykov, Repair, Reuse and Removal of Locomotives on Russian Private Railways 1890–1914

09.45-10.30 Slawomir Lotysz, Jewel in the Junk: Technology Transfer Through Obsolete Artefacts. The Case of Merck Corp. Penicillin Plant for Yugoslavia in 1947

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

Waste and Reuse

11.00-11.45 Ayushi Dhawan, India’s Shipbreaking Business, Emerging Economies, and the “Right to Pollute”?

11.45-12.15 Heike Weber, Consumer Durables, Bulk Waste, and the ‘Planned Obsolescence’ Debate in West Germany (1960s-80s)

12.15-13.30 Lunch break

From Reliability to Restoration

13.30-14.15 Karsten Marhold, Maintaining Innovators: How 1970s Engineers Struggled to Build a Reliable Electric Vehicle

14.15-15.00 David Lucsko, “Proof of Life”: Restoration, Preservation, and Old-Car Patina, 1930–2010

15.00-15.30 Coffee break

15.30-16.00 Closing remarks


Stefan Krebs

C2DH, 11, Porte des Sciences, L-4366 Esch-Belval